From February 27, 2019, the Centre Pompidou Metz will present a retrospective of Lee Ufan, tracing his career from the early works of the late 1960s to his most recent creations. The exhibition offers a defining vision of Ufan's unique oeuvre, showing how his artistic vocabulary has evolved over more than five decades.
Countering Frank Stella's celebrated formula and Minimalist slogan 'What you see is what you see', Lee Ufan favours an alternative: 'What you see is what you don't see'. As a painter, sculptor, poet, philosopher and creator of environments, Ufan's works function as revelatory devices, drawing our attention to empty space, the tension generated between untouched areas of canvas, the distance dividing two elements of a sculpture, the viewer's position, effects of light and shade: everything we fail to notice at first glance, but which is there nonetheless, playing its role in the making and impact of a work of art.
Born in Korea in 1936, when the country was under Japanese occupation, Lee Ufan recevied a traditional, Confucian education which was to profoundly affect his subsequent development as an artist. From the outset of his career in the 1960s, Ufan strove to achieve a balance between his Korean roots, his links to Japan where he studied and worked, and his growing attachment to the West (he exhibited at the Paris Biennale of 1971).